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African American Methodist Heritage Center

Advance #3020514

#3020514 – Recovering and preserving archives crucial to the history of African-Americans in the UMC


For many years, there was a concern that the legacy of African Americans in Methodism was being lost because heirs were not always aware that papers, journals, etc. were of value to the church and to black Methodists in particular. At a meeting of national BMCR, the organization was founded in 2001 and headed by Forrest C. Stith, a bishop in retirement. We have an office space at Drew University, co-located in space with GCAH where artifacts are housed. We hired part time staff and received a grant from UMC in 2008 to get the center fully established. The grant expires at end of 2012. Additional accomplishments: a. Conducted a series of local church workshops in all jurisdictions to teach church members how to preserve history. b. Published a series of calendars for 2012, 2013, 2014 which have been/are being distributed nationally and include known and little known facts about black Methodists. c.) Negotiated with UM Publishing House to reprint historic document, Black United Methodists, Retrospect, and Prospect by Dr. John Graham and serve as principle distributors of the book. d.) Completed an academic research consultation at Gammon, in Atlanta, GA with nationally known African American scholars to attempt to recover some of our lost stories. e.) Currently in dialogue with several African American colleges to locate a satellite center on their campus. f.) Recently celebrated 10 years of operation and recognized the contributions of the founders especially Bishop Forrest Stith who is stepping down as President in 2012. g. Released “We’ve Come This Far by Faith” a series of 5 DVDs representing the history of African Americans in Methodism in all jurisdictions of the UMC h. Appointment of Bishop Woodie Wright as President of African American Methodist Heritage Center in February 2013.

Goals & Objectives

1. Develop more consistent and effective way of communicating with Board, Staff, Partners, and Constituencies in order to empower participation in accomplishing the mission of the Heritage Center by end of 2014. 2. To encourage and resource in partnership with African American local churches to develop and implement processes of collecting, preserving, and sharing their histories by end of 2014. 3. To develop partnerships with other entities ( such as HBCU’s, General Agencies, Commissions and other agencies) that will strengthen the center’s ability to help the church recover, preserve, disseminate and tell the story of African Americans in Methodists. To be completed by the end of 2014. 4. To broaden our fundraising efforts to be less dependent on our traditional funding resource by end of 2014. 5. To identify research projects to develop participation in the academic community and to promote research in the unfolding story of Pan Methodism by 2013.

Activities Plan

1. Engaged virtual assistant to establish and maintain accurate database of over 300 constituents. 2. Establish more systematic approach to communicate with constituent database to inform, update and dialogue on regular basis. 3. Actively seek out and dialogue with families who have indicated an interest in making donations which will become a part of the AAMHC collection 4. Continue to work closely with the UM Foundation to identify potential donors. 5. Research consultation conducted at Gammon Theological Institute in Oct 2011. Plans to act on recommendations offered by the scholars who attended during 2011, and beyond. 6. Develop effective marketing plan for dissemination of AAMHC materials to a wider audience 7. Develop and implement plan to record oral histories of African American men and women who have made a contribution to our history.

From General Board of Global Ministries